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UAE official refuses to confirm lifting of visa restrictions on Nigerians

An official of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has refused to confirm the lifting of year-long visa restrictions on Nigerian travelers.

The UAE official said the visa restrictions imposed on Nigerian travelers remain active in the interim.

This comes a few days after the Federal Government announced that the two nations have struck a “historic agreement” that paved the way for, among others, the immediate lifting of the ban on Nigerians seeking to travel to the Gulf nation.

In a notice issued in October 2022, the UAE stated that it would stop the issuance of visas to citizens from Nigeria and 19 other African countries, with no further details provided.

Subsequently, flights between both countries were also halted last year as state-owned airlines, Emirates and Etihad, suspended operations in Nigeria over the inability to access and repatriate trapped funds amounting to $85 million.

In the last decade, Dubai has been a choice destination for Nigerian holidaymakers, shoppers and tourists in need of a break from the bustling life at home.

After a meeting between President Bola Tinubu and his UAE counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi on Monday, September 11, 2023, the Federal Government claimed Dubai has agreed to lift the ban, adding that flights between both countries will resume with immediate effect.

“Furthermore, by this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay,” a statement by presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said.

But, talking to CNN on Friday, September 15, 2023, a UAE official who craved anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media said, “There are no changes on the Nigeria/UAE travel status so far.

Recall Dubai didn’t corroborate the position of the Federal Government regarding the said agreement between both countries.

A statement by the UAE government on Monday said both leaders had, during the meeting, “explored opportunities for further bilateral collaboration” with the hope of “reinforcing ties between the UAE and Nigeria ” but remained silent on the lifting of visa ban or flights restarting.

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said on Thursday that no timeline has been set for Emirates and Etihad Airlines to resume flight operations in Nigeria.

Speaking at the Aviation Africa Summit in Abuja, Keyamo revealed that terms of agreements were being finalized by the two countries.

“So, we are beginning to work out all the tiny details.

I have met with Emirate before I left UAE, and we are working out the details.

We cannot say the time frame. Kicking off an airline operation again on a route, does not mean you will go and grab one empty plane sitting in a place,” the Minister said.

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